Angela Belcher Puts Viruses to Work Building Solar Cells

A Solar Cell Built by Viruses
Photograph by Brad DeCecco for Bloomberg Businessweek

Angela Belcher—MacArthur “genius” award winner and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—originally found inspiration in abalone. She came across one of the creatures’ iridescent shells while earning her Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and became fascinated with how nature creates such a beautiful object without high pressure, heat, or chemicals. The answer: Abalones contain proteins that help them turn the minerals found in seawater into calcium carbonate.

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